“What a man’s mind can create, man’s character should control.”
Motivation and drive are extremely valuable things to have in life. The double barrel yin-yang that keeps us rolling on and progressing in life. Taking on new challenges. Crushing new hurdles.
Our mindsets and attitudes are equally integral. Our shields and swords when combating reality, tragedy, pain, loss, grief, stress, and turmoil.
Faith, hope, and belief systems are the cornerstones of navigating through existence. These are the things that keep us well grounded and rooted in constants that will guide us on winding and darkened paths that otherwise appear to be terrain that’s impossible to traverse.
Virtue and values are our sails and anchors – one that keeps us afloat, aiding us in enduring the most galvanising tempests, and the other the foundation core and nucleus of our moral fibre.
Resolve and resilience are the fortifications that our inherent edifices are built around. What are we without our will power? What use are we without the pliability to adapt, adopt, and align to the changes around us?
It is our character that illuminates our qualities, attributes, image, and identities to those around us.
Add all of the abovementioned into a cohesive mix, and what we have is a concoction that is powerful, purposeful, and potent.
If taken individually, each of the above will add value and meaning to our lives. If combined, they can be even more beneficial. If we can actually espouse and ingrain all of the above, then we can truly weaponise ourselves to deal with nearly anything that life, fate, and the cosmos throw our way.
“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.”
The 10 commandments of game-changing arguably are:
- Faith, hope, beliefs
Now, we don’t need to go into the specifics of each of the above, because each of these would vary from person to person. Our perceptions, views, experiences, scenarios, life situations, and circumstances will pave the way for how each of the above-said will manifest in our lives.
However, here is a little secret to why all of the above might not have proven as significant and helpful. That is because all of the above need to formulate and fall into a modicum of routine.
Think of fire.
Fire, as an element left to its own accord, can devour, engulf, and consume…but it can also give warmth, energy, light to forge tools, instruments, and gadgets, and to cook food.
It all boils down (I couldn’t resist the pun!) to how we use the element to our benefit.
Likewise, motivation, drive, mindset, attitude, faith-hope-beliefs, virtue, values, resolve, resilience and character by themselves are not nearly as useful without discipline.
There you go. That’s the big one right there. The grand magus of all this witchery as it were – a little crude I am sure, but you catch my drift, right?
You see, it is only with discipline that we can create better habits, more productive routines, and begin to garner self-control without which we can never have self-respect. Discipline is what sets greatness from very good and good from the mediocre.
Think about it.
Take the world’s greatest musicians, from metal stars and classical virtuosos and jazz pundits…it is with absolute discipline that they master their instruments and hone their craftsmanship to uncanny levels.
Take the world’s greatest inventors and innovators. The bedrock of their success is consistency and application, even through failure.
Take the world’s greatest athletes. The legendary Michael Jordan was asked what his secret to success is. And he smiled and said that people only remember the greatness, glory, and successes. But his secret to success are all the times he failed. The basketball icon missed more than 9,000 shots in his career. He lost almost 300 games – he’s missed the game winning shot 26 times.
Anyone who works out professionally and keeps fit properly – be it for hypotrophy and bodybuilding, strength or conditioning, cardio, mobility, or aesthetic value – will tell you that at the core of it all lies discipline. It is with discipline that you find consistency, frequency while developing the right techniques, movements, range of motion, and form.
Leonardo Da Vinci said: “The height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment…And this law is the expression of eternal justice.”
Some seasonal tips to build better habits
My 20s were much of a blur. It was certainly not devoid of experiences, achievements, milestones, debauchery, decadence, poor choices, many poor habits, and some valuable opportunities lost. Anyone who has known me during this tenure or affiliated with me closely will attest to this.
However, life has giveth and has also taken much from me. Somehow, I reached a crossroads in my 30s, where I decided to make a change. I chose self-value and self-control over self-indulgence.
I chose wellbeing and steadfast mental, physical, and spiritual health over a seditious and destructive lifestyle.
I didn’t like the person I was becoming and the shadow I was orbiting on my true potential and worth.
I made a choice to cut out and limit my vices and habits; in order to do this, I needed to segregate myself from certain people, situations, and environments that were toxic. But mostly, I needed to accept that I had to work on myself from scratch in every frontier and every aspect.
Ergo I cleaned up my act, decided to pursue my higher professional and academic education, stopped having bong hits for breakfast and imbibing in libations on daily conquest, and instead substituted that with hitting the gym and getting back into shape. I started learning about Stoic philosophy, analytical psychology, and nutrition linked to organic fitness and dealing with mental health. I poured myself into my creative pursuits: Stigmata, my writing, theatre, voice artistry, and motivational talks.
It took a lot of work; to hell and back, if you’d like a more precise analogy. But after three years, I’ve fulfilled and accomplished a lot of my goals – I am the first to admit humbly that I still have a long way to go. Be that as it may, in three years, I made up for a lot of wasted and lost time in most of my 20s.
Do I harbour any remorse? Not quite. Because it was my mistakes, errors, and mishaps that I learned from. Hard lessons…but lasting impressions.
I want to share my one hour tenet that I have inculcated in the last few years. My methodology for self-improvement, growth, and evolution does borrow from the ethos of having discipline, building consistency and frequency, and setting achievable short term, mid, and long-term tasks.
How we kick off our morning determines how the rest of our day unfolds. Of this I am certain. To have a positive mindset, the right attitude, strong resolve, and stout perspicacity will aid us to face the challenges ahead with vigour, vibrancy, courage, and wisdom.
It’s pretty simple. I find that my first hour productively and well spent sets the tone to grab the proverbial daily bull by its gonads! Please feel free to take this and adjust it accordingly to your lifestyle.
- No wake-up dopamine fix: I leave my mobile switched off in the mornings when I wake up. I switch it on after I finish my other stuff
- I wake and meditate/pray/reflect: Spend time being grateful for the people, blessings, and things in my life
- I stretch: Do some basic stretches to improve mobility
- I arrange the bed: You are being organised and it’s a healthy habit
- I open the curtains and let sunlight come in and I bask in it for a bit: Nothing like the morning view and light to wake me up properly
- I write down my thoughts/objectives/tasks for the day: I physically write down what’s at the top of my head and then tick the stuff off at the end of the day. Whatever is not done is moved to the next day
- I drink two glasses of water
- I clean/mop/sweep the place
- I prep the food for the kids/pets + set my morning green tea or coffee, black as Hades
- I do my washroom business/brush my teeth/take a cold water shower
- I feed the kids and the legion of rescues
- I then switch on my phone
- I then check my morning mails and work, and sort that out
- I get ready and hit the gym
That’s the first hour generally. A few things are apt to go Helter Skelter at times, but for the most part, this is the routine I try to stick to seven days a week. Believe me, by the time the rest of the day kicks in, I have already done plenty of stuff where I am ready to tackle almost anything by then.
Remember, it’s a small thing, but if you kick-start your day with positivity and feeling good about yourself, then you are in a better frame and state of mind to make all the moments you have matter and count. You don’t miss a thing; you don’t waste time.
Go seize the day. Carpe diem!
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
– George Bernard Shaw
(The writer is the frontman and lyricist of Stigmata, a creative consultant and brand strategist by profession, a self-published author and poet, thespian, animal rescuer, podcaster, and fitness enthusiast)
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.